Thursday, May 5, 2011
Considering Yet Again "What to Do?"
The Osama Thing has certainly thrown a spanner in the works. Of course, Goldstein/Osama could have been liquidated at any time, anywhere at all. The fact that he was done to death in Pakistan at a compound near the capital, in the midst of any number of Pakistani military installations is evocative to be sure, but of what is still a mystery.
There are those who will maintain that Osama/Goldstein actually died of his kidney disease in 2002, and he's only been "kept alive" as a Monstrous Image of Hate for the convenience of The Powers That Be.
If the reports are to be believed, some kind of Death Dealing was done at the Compound in Bilal Town, some number of men and at least one woman were "taken out" as they say and some sort of new-fangled Stealth Helicopter was left in ruins in the courtyard and hanging on the wall of the place (as if to advertise it's presence and peculiarity.) Whether the Devil Himself, Mister Osama was there and was dealt the "double tap" that is now in the descriptions of the Incident -- one to the head, one to the chest to make sure he's good and dead -- who knows?
Since no physical evidence of his death by Navy SEAL gunfire in Pakistan is to be forthcoming, much as there was no physical evidence of his existence on this Earth after late 2001, we are unlikely to know what really happened with this man, or when, or where.
Does it matter?
For historians and recorders of the Past, most certainly. For the Future, not so much.
It appears that TPTB are actually moving relatively quickly to turn the page, to end the Era of Osama once and for all and Move On. This may or may not lead to a withdrawal from Afghanistan and an end to the highly discriminate -- but often erroneous -- bombing of civilian targets (alleged to be "Taliban") in the Wild Areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. My own suspicion is that there will be no withdrawal as such, but there may well be a return to base such as has taken place in Iraq, in which troop numbers in the field are reduced and their actions restricted, their presence keyed much lower than before. But they're still there. Ready.
There is an Empire to consolidate and preserve after all. And that won't suddenly go away.
Another Goldstein will arise now that the former one is at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, or is it the Persian Gulf? Somewhere under the ocean They say. But They Say a lot of things, and much of what They Say is lies.
They're so used to getting away with it, all this huffing and puffing at skeptics that's coming out of the White House is more than a little amusing. It's partly Show, of course, but there are genuine reasons for skepticism that have nothing to do with political persuasion. They have to do with bitter experience of... lies.
The important question is not about how Awful the Government is, nor whether an when another Goldstein will arise. The important question is what to do about it. What can we do about it? Should we do anything about it?
I've reached pretty much the limit of my endurance of people who simply want to complain about the Awful Government and its many minions, who make a career of mocking the powdered and perfumed courtiers who pass for American Mass Media -- yet who seem to desperately want to become part of that exclusive class of servants and minions.
Yes, we know. The Government is Awful. All governments, by their very nature, are Awful. They lie. Their minions are craven. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Yes. That is the way it is. Now what do we do about it?
Some time back, I pointed out that the period we are in resembles that of Louis XV, not Louis XVI, in that there is much anxiety and much grumbling, and there are occasional outbreaks of unrest, but there is no real revolutionary fervor, not yet, not among the People. What we have right now is the Revolt of the Rich and their refusal to be taxed to pay for the many wars and other indignities they insist must be forced on the rest of us.
The Rich revolt first, then the People revolt against the Rich. Or so it goes.
Of course, the political Revolution that established the United States grew directly out of the English Civil Wars of the century before, which had nothing to do with "the People" (as if there were any such concept at the time) and what motivated the American revolutionaries politically was quite different than the motivations for the French Revolution which came after the American one, but not long after, and there were numerous and close relationships between France and the interests of the French Government in the New World, and between French philosophers and American revolutionaries. Some of the American revolutionaries were educated in France or in French Flanders. But the French influence on the Revolution in what would become the United States would occur primarily during the long reign of Louis XV; by the time his grandson, Louis XVI, got to the French Throne, the revolutionary pattern had already been set in America, and its French connections were setting the stage for Revolution in France in due time.
But why did these revolts and revolutions take place at all? Arguably, things weren't so bad in either France or Britain's American colonies that Revolution was a necessity. No, things weren't good enough, government was corrupt and craven, popular representation was limited or non-existent, and force was being employed to "secure the realm" from... some kind of evil.
The educated middle class was restive, the proletariat was apathetic, and the aristocracy was rotten to the core.
The monarchies in both Britain and France were tottering institutions, with a Mad King on the Throne in Britain, and an ineffective one in France.
The situation was ripe.
Not so much now and in the short term at any rate, Americans are working overtime to throw away the Enlightenment -- out of which so much Revolutionary fervor, for good and ill, was generated. Instead of progress, the culture, thought, and future of the Nation seems to be reverting to some sort of superstitious Neo-Feudal ideal. Those in Revolt in other words, are headed backwards.
They openly desire to go backwards, they reject the very ideas and ideals that inform the present, and they yearn -- some desperately -- for a "return" to a theocratic autocracy such as they imagine ruled in Biblical times.
While the current revolt is headed in that direction, and would be doing so whether or not there was a Goldstein figure to Hate, and it's not the Revolution yet.
That is still to come. And no matter how we get there, constant complaining about the way things are won't do it.
For review: The Social Contract